tarot police

Recently, the noise around the controversial topic of “tarot certification” has gotten a bit louder and rather heated.  I’ve written posts with my thoughts, and various Blog Talk Radio shows have addressed the subject as well. It was refreshing to hear and assess the many varied viewpoints and perspectives on the subject, and as positive open dialogue often does, the process has revealed a few new thoughts that have piqued my interest and raised new concerns.

Some of the people who were pro-certification were unable to articulate how certification would serve the tarot community.  And then there were those who viewed certification as being “for the consumer” and a way to make the tarot reader “accountable”. Let’s pause and think about that for a minute. In my opinion, these statements present some serious questions that need to be answered.

First of all, words mean things. Words that are meant to sound nice and compelling on a brochure or one page web pitch for an organization are often glanced over without much critical attention paid to the actual practical implications, processes and actions they entail. From time to time, we all tend to get lost between glossy imagery, ad copy and our own fantasies of what a benign and wonderful organization might be like, but what is important is what those words actually mean for those who decide to actually sign on.

For instance, what exactly does “accountability” mean for tarot readers?  When someone says that their organization will hold a reader “accountable” how exactly do they intend to do that? And for what?  And with what financial backup?  What authority do they have? Tarot Police? Why would a client need an organization to handle complaints when we already have a legal system in place and specific laws to handle consumer related issues?  And more importantly, what is the certifying body’s business structure and how will that influence their criteria for “recourse”?

1. A certifying body needs to be clear about their business structure because there are different legal rules for each type of organization.  A non-profit, for example, has very strict legal requirements whereas a private club can create any body of laws they want to as long as they are not illegal.  The most likely model for a legitimate certifying body would be a non-profit because they don’t have any other business interests and would also have a board of directors, federal guidelines, mandatory meetings, as well as a democratic voting system which would insure that the community gets a voice in choosing leaders.  This would also lessen the possibility of a few self appointed tarot dictators being able to maintain absolute power.

2. Some of these certifying bodies claim to be for the consumer. The idea here is that a potential client could feel “safe” going to a “certified” reader.  (In all the years I have been reading, I have NEVER had a client ask to see my certification.  Most people who seek a tarot reader find us through word of mouth, not through searching some internet data base list of “certified” readers.) These organizations also say that they will offer a “recourse” if the client is unsatisfied or if the tarot reader doesn’t abide by the board’s “code of ethics”. These organizations should be able to clearly spell out the process for filing a complaint and have rules in place to insure that this doesn’t become a convenient forum for any crackpot to file grievances just to get freebies – or worse yet settle scores with rivals or slander other members with malicious intent.

3. Recourse needs to be defined clearly.  What kind of “recourse” can a certified tarot reader expect should a client file a complaint? Will they lose their certification?  Or will the reader be forced to issue a refund?  Or will nothing at all be done?  This is troubling to me because I do not want anyone telling me how to run my business.  I would never hand over that authority to anyone but myself.  Do I really want to put my business in a position where there is even a tiny threat of outside interference in my own policies?  If there is no clear idea of what this “recourse” could entail, then I encourage you to think long and hard before you put your name on the dotted line.  Know what you are getting into and what your rights are should a problem ever arise.

4. If a tarot reader loses their certification, would this be done publicly?  And if so, is there a policy in place to insure that the reader is not slandered by the certifying board?  How can we be sure that privacy and dignity would be preserved even for people who get uncertified?

5. Who polices the police? How can one be sure that the members of the certifying body practice what they preach?  In other words, if someone is going to try and monitor my business, what checks and balances are in place to make sure the powers that be also adhere to these standards?  And if they don’t – what is the recourse for THEM?  Would the tarot community be able to oust an unethical board member?

Although some of these certifying boards are quick to say that they don’t want to “police” the tarot community, aren’t they doing just that by creating arbitrary codes of ethics and then trying to enforce them amongst those who join up?  Is that piece of paper really worth going after if it gives someone else a license to tell you how to run your business?  Could there be legal implications and interference if the organization (either unwittingly or intentionally) steps into a situation that has real legal consequences?

I have seen all this and many more ugly things transpire first hand, over and over again in other supposedly “spiritual” oriented communities. Be it Tarot, Yoga, or just about any other community organization or “governing body” of any sort, the principle is simple, ancient and universal…power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  We all need to put on our thinking caps and pull out our best research skills and psychic guns when anyone is declaring to place some form of authority over another.

In a world that has become increasingly geared toward high speed internet instant gratification, we all need to hold back that urge to click and remember that words are not just set dressing for a sales pitch. Look at the fine print and read between the lines.



image courtesy of taoxproductions (special thank you to taox for all the help! xxoo)

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